Month: October 2011

The amazing speaker series – Part One – Simon Sinek

This speaker series has been amazing. Not just for the people who’ve spoken, or even the remarkable gatherings of people who’ve come, or the generosity and insight of the dozen or so bloggers who’ve written about it. This speaker series was amazing because it has taught me more, and introduced me to more people than any other thing I’ve done in my professional life. I’ll write another post properly sharing the lessons and the blog posts, but here I want to focus on the great talks we’ve seen so far:

Simon Sinek was first in Manhattan. We chose Simon to kick off because his message was so acutely aligned with what we were trying to embody and pass on – that purpose matters – to you, your team, your market, your partners, your investors. His talk was also interesting because he took the brave step of stepping away from his standard talk, and opened up about a wide range of topics. Here’s an excerpt. Enjoy his light-hearted but kinda serious link between good business and world peace, and the fact that while Microsoft worries about Apple, Apple probably spends very little time worrying about Microsoft:

Next: I’ll talk aout Michael Edson’s thoughtful view of our recent past, and our immediate present. .

And there’s still time to RSVP to the last event in this phase of the series: Andrew McAfee talks about his new book, Race Against the Machine. Boston, Nov 1: Sign up to attend this free breakfast seminar in person or the live video stream.

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Race against the Machine: Will your computer replace you?

Today, Andrew McAfee published a new book with Erik Brynjolfsson. I reviewed it on amazon, and have copied that review below. It is a decidedly fresh perspective on the new business era, and you will not walk away from this book unchanged. In it, he explores the relationship between ever productive technologies, the erosion of personal income, the rise of business profits and the global standard of living. He hints that we may need to reconsider the nature of work, human identity, and the role of technology as economic engine or giant damper.

This is an electronic only book published this way, in McAfee’s words, “because there just wasn’t time.”

Fortuitously, Andrew is our fourth Purpose-Driven Business Speaker. The event is a breakfast next Tuesday, November 1. Breakfast at 8, talk at 8:30. Back on the economy at 10. Please join us – at this free event sponsored by OpenText. it will be a very new and thrilling discussion. I guarantee it. The hashtag, should you choose to use it is #purposebiz.

Oh and the book? at 60 e-pages and $4, its a great bargain, both intellectually, and financially.

My amazon review:

In this short, fast, very well researched collaboration between the economist and the “new society and business” professor, McAfee and Brynjolfsson look into the not too distant past and future and map the trajectory of how technology is impacting and replacing human labor. They remind us of how relieved we were when automated checkout stands didn’t destroy the economy, but point to the fact that driver-less cars are no longer science fiction and the time from impossible to possible was well under a decade. They explore the complex relationship between technology, prosperity, economic growth, human identity and global wealth. The story is clearly told, drawing equally from economic and technology theorists and statistics.

As a society, our savings accounts alone reveal that we don’t exactly thrive on addressing inevitable futures. Global warming, peak oil, etc are tough for us, not just because they are complex issues, but because as a culture we prefer to look away. Reading this sharp work will both have you nodding your head in agreement tha the U.S. is tragically under-investing in education and infrastructure, while at the same time reviewing all of the post-singularity distopic literature you’ve ever read about technology controlled societies, looking for some hint that humanity will win.
There is no doubt that this scant 60 page book will ignite a huge reaction, and leave a lasting mark on the conversation. What happens when the portents of Orwell, Clark, and Asimov begin to materialize? What are we really made of?

The reinvention of marketing

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The Reinvention of Marketing

This post originally appeared on CMSWire

  1. Marketing Malpractice is the Norm
    People like to scoff at marketing these days. Even Daniel Pink – the lawyer– has deemed it an ignoble profession (he was (sort of) joking). Why? Because many people, including too many marketing professionals, think marketing is the art and science of tricking, manipulating and cajoling you into buying things that are inferior, unnecessary, or too expensive.At the same time, social media has (helped) moved marketing’s cheese. Consumers now tell us what marketing should be – as well they should. Consumers (including business and government consumers) are more sophisticated. They are constantly bombarded with messages and increasingly aware of the opinions and expertise of their peers, and the power of their words and dollars. The market now demands value, authenticity, transparency, integrity and superb service. As well it should.

    Marketing, properly practiced, is the art of connecting the psyche of the market and the soul of the business. What does the business aspire to and why should the market care? Marketing no longer seeks to manipulate you; it wants to earn your respect.

    2. Earning respect by exploring what matters.

Marketing is the constant exploration and expression of what matters – to the marketer and to the marketee. It is by excavating and sharing that core that we pull on the viscera of both our market and our organization. Simon Sinek beautifully describes this in his TED talk.
What matters to the organization? This is only rarely obvious. A few standout businesses – Zappos for example – have an incredibly sharp focus on what matters. Zappos isn’t about shoes, its about great customer service. Others are more subtle. Nike isn’t about athletic gear, its about the aspirational athlete in all of us. Levis is about celebrating the American experience. Note that in each case, they have the products to back it up. I haven’t bought a pair of shoes in a store since 2003. Nike gear is great looking and high performing. Levis are the denim standard.

How do these brands- and yours – get there? By plumbing the minds – and yes, hearts – of the organization and its products to understand and develop the meaning and the value that you aspire to bring to the market. This is an exploration of purpose. Why does the organization exist? Yes, we know about the profit motive, but people are not going to give you money so that you can make a profit. Nor will your employees go “the extra mile” for your profit – even if they get to “share” a zillionth fraction of it. Really.

So – what is your value and what is your unique perspective on that value? What do you believe in as an organization? We, the marketees, want to know. We’ll let you know if it’s meaningful to us.

  • Apple believes that design is important. Many people resonate deeply with the idea that beauty and simplicity make us more powerful.
  • Levis believes that the American experience is rich and meaningful. And that resonates deeply with our pride and angst about America, reminding us that these aren’t the only complicated times we’ve come through.
  • Chrysler believes that Detroit has automotive expertise in its veins – reinforcing our belief that American craftsmanship remains powerful, honorable and hopeful.
  • Ben & Jerry’s believes that you can have fun, run a business well, and do good in the world, reminding us that just because we have mortgages doesn’t mean we can’t have fun and reflect our “youthful” values.
  • The boutique apple cider company I visited this weekend is about keeping heirloom apples in production and helping people to appreciate how wonderful they are. People flock.

The consumer doesn’t care about you, your profit or your efficiency. The consumer cares about what the consumer cares about. Is your value proposition valuable to him? Do you believe what she does?

Its not enough to have a value proposition. “High-quality ice cream” or “good cars” is not enough. A brand must have a point of view on that value. High-Quality, FUN ice cream that reminds you not to forget your ideals. The rebirth of American-crafted cars. Authentic blue jeans. This is what ignites the hearts and minds of the market – and employees. Answering that means understanding the market – what are the needs, wants, goals and desires of people? Where are they going? Where have they been? What do they see that you do not? What do you see that they do not? In what way is your mission meaningful to them?

So – you think you have a mission statement? Not unless its part of every day’s conversation at the company. Not unless reading it gives you – and everyone else you work with – a visceral excitement. Not unless it acts as a navigational north star of the entire company. Not unless when there’s a hard decision to be made, it will surely be invoked.

3. Telling the story
There is so much we want people to understand. The best way to engage people in more than a slogan is with story. The ultimate expression of good marketing is the story. The true art of the marketer is to understand what’s important and express them resonantly. Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit and public scorner of “marketing” likes to show a photo of one of Reddits fans – with a Reddit tattoo. That’s resonance. Of a sort. How we tell our story, the perspective and values it embodies, the media, the aesthetic we use, the way we choose to distribute it – these matter. Each and everyone should be a reflection of values and perspective. You want to be successful in social marketing? Develop a story and assets around that story that your employees are proud (not ashamed) to

4. Becoming the story
So why does it matter? What is the meaning of meaning? With meaning, the company has a clear way forward under any circumstances. Some amount of debate over options is inevitable, but you have clear criteria for decision-making now and in the long term. Politics recedes to the background. The team gets it – they are collaborative and engaged. The market gets it. They get why they should go with you instead of the other guy. Your team imbues the mission into your products and services. Your entire customer experience reflects your point of view.
In other words, you have a business building something the market wants, and its giving at least as much value as its taking from the community.

When you understand your mission, can tell the story that evokes your point of view, and your market and your team feels it deeply. That’s marketing.

The best is yet to come.

5 reasons I admire JSB and you should come to breakfast

John Seely-Brown has had a deep impact on what and how I’ve been thinking in the last year or so, and I wanted to share it with you, here in this blog and at the breakfast OpenText is sponsoring in San Francisco on October 18th.

JSB, as he likes to be known, is an author, an academic, a consultant, and, what my mother would call a “mensch”. Here’s 5 reasons I wanted him to be a part of this series, and why you should join or tune in on October 18th.

1. First, this keynote video below – its longer than a TED talk, but I promise that you’ll consider every minute very well worth it. In it he builds out ideas of a world “in constant flux” and the new forms of “extreme learning” that it both enables and necessitates. Watch it really.

2. He’s the next speaker in our speaker series on the role of purpose in the organization – because he has thought and researched deeply about intrinsic motivation, incentive systems, learning organizations, organizational design and facing new challenges.

3. When I spoke to him last friday in preparation for this talk, we began talking about learning, and he offered to give a free copy of his book to every attendee – provided we help him carry them up from his car. Which, of course, I’m delighted to do.

4. He sees both sides of the issue – what’s happening culturally, and how that should and will disrupt how we use technology. He is an early cloud computing scientist and architect.

5. Spend 5 minutes with him, and you’ll understand – he genuinely wants to talk and think about these issues. He’s not simply pushing his books or an agenda. He is generous and speaks softly but with great impact. He will ignite your intellectual pilot light. Promise.

Watch the video – you will love it, and come join us in San Francisco or watch it live online.